A Ministry of Care by Dr. Daniel G. Bagby

Pastoral Care Guidance for Deacons, Stephen Ministers, and the Congregation of River Road Church, Baptist

Assumptions I Make about Relationships with Challenging People

  1. I am only in control of how I relate to another person.
  2. I do not/cannot change another person—only set boundaries on what they are allowed to do.
  3. Persons who choose to can alter/change the way they themselves act/relate.
  4. I have no choice not to relate to some challenging persons—the only choices I have are when to initiate, how to initiate, and how to respond to them.
  5. The patterns of responses I find difficult to relate to are partially a function of my emotional history with certain relational dynamics.
  6. Anxiety and frustration are emotional responses I can learn to exercise some control over (I can become a “less anxious presence”).
  7. Some persons learned difficult behaviors in order to cope with stress, some out of poor modeling, some out of anxiety, some out of a desire to control (power), some out of pain, some out of self-care.
  8. Some patterns of responses that are difficult for some people may not be difficult for others (we collect our own).
  9. Some dysfunctional (unhelpful) ways of relating are systemic and have developed in families for several generations.
  10. It is neither irresponsible nor inappropriate to choose to avoid some difficult relationships as much as possible.
  11. Humor, realistic expectations, prayer, and self-talk all contribute to an increased capacity to respond well to the people I find “difficult.”
  12. Stress and accumulated frustration add to the challenge of responding effectively to strained behavior.
  13. Some persons are actually very difficult to relate to—period (I cannot relate well to everyone—ask Jesus).